Kids need stories that reflect their own experience and those of others’ .

“A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity. A window is a resource that offers you a view into someone else’s experience. ”

Emily Style


It has been twenty-nine years since Rudine Sims Bishop’s seminal essay “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” was published. Speaking to the lack of children’s books with African American characters and themes, the essay called for books to act as windows and mirrors that would allow all children to see themselves and the experiences of others in what they read.

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of the world that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.

Rudine Sims Bishop, ‘Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors’

Seeing their identities mirrored in films/video can foster positive social identity development in teens by increasing their pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem, and recognizing traits of the dominant culture, their home culture and other cultures (Identity). Viewing a film as a window allows students to explore the lives of others, building empathy and understanding while examining diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts (Diversity).

Nearly three decades later, those questions of whose stories get told and by and to whom have not gone away. If anything, windows and mirrors seem even more important now, at a time when vastly troubling questions are arising.

  • Teenagers (and adults) face challenges today both like and unlike what we ourselves have known.
  • Teenagers have a voice in shaping the world around them, but they do not always recognize the power of their voices.
  • Teenagers are capable of profound empathy in sometimes surprising ways.
  • Teenager identities, today, are shaped more by watching video media than from reading books.
  • Broadcast media and films continue to reinforce globalized cultures and stereotypes.


Derived from the Mirrors, Windows and Doors model for bi-lingual education, all film will be meet the following objectives:

  • to reflect on the ones’ own culturally determined values, behaviour and ways of thinking;
  • to raise awareness of intercultural differences in values, behaviours and ways of thinking;
  • to raise awareness of culturally determined aspects of language use;
  • to practice observation and interpretation skills as well as critical thinking;
  • to develop and adopt multiple perspectives;
  • to negotiate common ground;
  • to develop empathy, open-mindedness and respect for otherness; and
  • to entertain.


Real Lives Films: Capture, organise and prepare as many of the oral history interviews as possible to provide a structured archive of the complete interviews, key insights and b-roll for future use.

Real Lives Youtube Channel: An organised archive will provide ready films for promotion, exhibits and events; as well as uncut transcribed digital media for Ecotechnics, academics or other collaborators to utilise and disseminate the immense amount of information/knowledge.

Indigenous Voices Programming: The oral history work will result in an exhibition, called The Gift, about the cycle of reciprocity between human culture and the sea. Designed to be fluid like the seas it represents, The Gift will be realised as a traveling event based on video interviews, photographic art collection, narrative performance and artefact objects from the Oral History Living Library.

Project Start: november 2019
Project End: ongoing

Project Partners:

  • Cedars Productions
  • Slowfood International
  • Gegg Reisen
  • Gerald Bogad
  • Institute of Ecotechnics